Archive for August, 2009

rstar, Homer Simpson, and 8,500 Whoopy Cushions-Eagle

August 31, 2009 2 comments

It was cool last night at Eagle.  Downright chilly for my old bones once the sun went down.  With last night the last points race of the season most of us understood that fall was at an, but Mother Nature needed  to emphasize the point. I will blame it on Matt that I didn’t take one of my two hooded sweatshirts.  He arrived a few minutes early and it threw off my rhythm of getting ready.  I would have been OK all night if Matt hadn’t forgotten a blanket.  Actually he brings along two most race nights, making for a softer cushion than the aluminum seats. No sweatshirt, no blanket, and I was getting cold.  Whoever thought Randy Palmer aka rstar, would come to the rescue?  Randy stopped by to talk before the races started, and later dropped off a blanket which I put to good use.  Thank you Randy.  You are a gentleman and a scholar, meaning there were at least two of us at Eagle last night.  The blanket is in Matt’s car.  If you stop by next Sunday at the Eagle Shootout we will give it back to you.

We don’t buy a program every time we go to Eagle, but for some reason Matt did last night.  He was looking through the program and came upon pictures of last year’s track banquet.  I don’t know why we never noticed this before, but our good friend Rick Bradley did receive an award last year, the Homer Simpson Award.  I was trying to come up with one good reason why Rick might be compared with Homer Simpson, but actually came up with twelve reasons why he fit the criteria for the award.  So, why were you the Homer Simpson award winner in 2008 Rick?  And who has the inside track for the 2009 award?

As always, the track was well prepared last night, and very fast.  Even into the features fast lap times in each class were within a few tenths of a second of track records.  The racing was good-again, like always.  Congratulations to track champions Mike Boston in sprints, Jordan Grabouski in mods, Roy Armstrong in hobby stocks, and Joey Danley in sports compacts. 

Contestants for Miss Nebraska Cup were on hand last night.  Four of the young ladies were from Lincoln and one hales from my hometown Fremont.  I am not the least biased, but believe the Fremont candidate is the best.

Next Sunday is the Eagle Shootout, with open competition in all four of Eagle’s weekly classes.  A band will be on hand before and after the races, and NASCAR legend Ken Schrader will be signing autographs and racing his own modified.  Admission is free-just ask any Eagle driver, sponsor, or staff member for a ticket.  Free racing, a band, Ken Schrader AND a chance to set a world’s record are all in the offing next SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY.  Free whoopy cushions will be given out to the first 8,500 fans arriving, and later in the evening the record for most people sitting on a whoopy cushion at one time will hopefully be broken.

I am a big fan of physical comedy.  Honestly the comedy of the Three Stooges was misunderstood and underrated in my opinion.  Some people are already “putting on airs,” no pun intended, over this record attempt, but I think it is hilarious.  Matt had this idea several years ago, but had a problem separating football from racing.  He wanted to put photos of Bill Callahan and Steve Pederson on the whoopy cushion, and have the event sponsored by a proctologist.  He didn’t think that Tom Osborne could be convinced to hand out 85,000 whoopy cushions at an NU football game.

You can’t beat a free night at Eagle for great value.  If you still need a racing fix after that, well, with all seventeen of I-80 Speedway’s classes racing (yes, I do know it is only seven classes) chances are good they will still be racing 13 miles north of Eagle by the time you arrive. 

As one of the judges of last night’s banner contest at Eagle, I would like to make a suggestion for future contests.  I think the winners received a great prize, but everyone should receive something.  Everyone worked hard on the banners, and I hate to see little kids disappointed.  If nothing else, give them coupons for concessions.

Thanks for stopping by.


It’s The NEBRASKA Cup-Sorry, and Another Utah Driver You Should Know

August 29, 2009 Leave a comment

Apologies to all at Eagle Raceway for trying to rename their annual season ending special.  It is the Nebraska Cup.  My bad.  I guess my brain became more cluttered than normal because I was in the midst of planning which football games I wanted to attend with Matt this season.


The blog post I did on talented young IMCA modified driver Chase Hanson from Utah had an unexpected result.  Several of Chase’s fans read the post and one wrote me about another Utah driver with quite a story, Harvey Howard.  Harvey’s family owns Desert Thunder Raceway in Price, Utah.  He used to drive a late model, but now races an IMCA mod.  In addition to racing for weekly points, Harvey runs in the Wild West Northern Series as well.  The series consists of seven two days shows in New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, and Nevada, then finishes with the 4 day Las Vegas event in November.  Harvey is currently 13th in tour points, and finished 6th in the tour in 2007.


Until he was 16 Harvey raced motocross. At that very young age a motocross accident left him paralyzed from the waist down. His story is quite a story, and one I never knew about.  Neither did the publishers of Dirt Modified Magazine, but he wants me to do Harvey’s story for the magazine. I have an invitation to attend Desert Thunder’s season end show the Castle Country Classic on 9/25 & 9/26, but unless I win the lottery before then I will probably have to do my interviews over the phone and on the internet.  Freelance racing writers do NOT have expense accounts.


Harvey Howard is a perfect example of why I have practically begged people to let me know about drivers I can write of on my blog.  Every driver is worthy of having his story told.  I don’t care if the driver has never won a race and never will.  There is something about everyone that will make the story a good one.  I can’t tell you how many “Holy Shit, that is really good,” moments I have had interviewing drivers since 2003.  A bunch is as close as I can figure. I thank Angela Cooper for letting me know of the Harvey Howard story, and hope others will write me about drivers, promoters, officials and yes, even fans.


 I am not sure what issue of Dirt Modified the Harvey Howard article will run in.  I just finished an article on Iowan Todd Shute for DM, and am writing an article on Johnny Saathoff, both of which I believe will appear in the next issue.  I wish the magazine would switch to monthly, because we have already talked about three other area drivers for possible articles and I would love to do a bigger article on Chase Hanson.


I have not given up on writing for Dirt Late Model.  I do have an assignment for the magazine.  I guess we can call it “logistics” as to why I haven’t written more lately, and leave it at that.  Hopefully I will be doing more for DLM in future issues.


I didn’t write much from April-July.  I had my shoulder surgery in April, my Dad went to the hospital in mid-May and that was a 40 day ordeal.  His passing left me not wanting to do much of anything, including writing.  Now I am finding writing is good and relatively cheap therapy, and there are many more stories I want to tell. So send me some names.


Thanks for stopping by.

America’s Home Track Hosts Free Night September 6th

August 26, 2009 1 comment

I like Eagle Raceway promoter Roger Hadan’s thinking on his Sunday September 6th special.  That he is making the show free admission is good, but involving drivers in promoting the event is a great idea.  Hadan had 20,000 tickets printed for the event, and drivers took as many as they wanted to hand out.  What is important is that each ticket will have the driver’s name on the ticket, and the driver who has the most tickets redeemed gets in free for the entire 2010 season.


The show is a great prelude to the track’s September 12th Cornhusker Cup special.  A band will be playing before and after the races-the race is held Labor Day weekend, and NASCAR great Ken Schrader will be racing his modified against the tough IMCA mod drivers at Eagle.  Pits will be open prior to the races so fans can meet Schrader and get his autograph, but also so they can do that same with local drivers.  It looks like a great evening, and you certainly can’t beat the price.


There does happen to be a race going on 13 miles up the highway from Eagle.  I-80 Speedway is holding its final point night races on September 6th.  I won’t comment on “why” these tracks are running against each other, except to say it is what it is.  My son Matt has it figured out that we can go to the Eagle show, then catch the finish of the I-80 show for free, since it is very likely to run much later than the Eagle event.  He figures the SLMR late model feature will still be on tap by the time we travel up to Greenwood and maybe the IMCA mod feature too.  By then the track has quit taking admission so he figures that will be another freebie.  I don’t know about this, but Matt’s thinking is usually about what seems to happen.


I keep forgetting to mention that Jesse Sobbing is 3rd in IMCA National Northern Sports Mod standings.  If he could climb to first at the end of the season, he would be the second rookie in a row to win this class, and like last year’s champion, move from the hobby stocks to sports modified ranks.


It looks like 19 year old modified driver Lake Nichoalds of Onarga, Illinois will be my next driver profile.  I am continuing to build my racing network on Facebook, and Lake is one of what seems like hundreds of mod drivers that are Facebook friends.  I knew there were a ton of mods, B-mods, sports mods, mod lites, and classic mods, but it seems like all of them have Facebook pages.  Maybe I can write something about all of them.  To give drivers who don’t get much publicity a chance to tell their story is why I started this blog.


Thanks for stopping by.

This Driver Is In The Chase Every Year

August 26, 2009 2 comments
Chase-ing down another mod win

Chase-ing down another mod win

No, I am not talking about Jimmy Johnson.  I am talking about 18 year old Chase Hansen of Myton, Utah.  Hansen has raced modifieds since 2006, and has raced IMCA mods since 2007, when his home track Desert Thunder Raceway in Price, Utah was first sanctioned by the Iowa based association.


In addition to racing at Desert Thunder Raceway, Hansen is a regular at Fairgrounds Speedway in Cortez, Colorado, and follows the IMCA Wild West Modified Tour Northern Series.  He has raced at 17 different tracks in the IMCA Western Region. Hansen has nine feature wins, including six in his IMCA modified.  He claims his biggest win was his first win at Desert Thunder Raceway in 2006.


In 2007 Hansen finished 3rd in IMCA Wild West Modified Tour standings, and was 74th in IMCA National Modified Points-no small feat for a 16 year old, considering the thousands of modified drivers who race under the IMCA banner.  Last year Hansen was again 3rd in Wild West Modified Tour points, and climbed to 39th in IMCA National Modified Points.  This season Hansen is 3rd in points at Desert Thunder Raceway, 2nd in IMCA points in Utah, and 7th in the IMCA Western Region standings.


Hansen races because “I really enjoy being around all of the great people and having fun.”  If he could change one thing about racing “it would be to have drivers drive with their head to keep everyone’s car in one piece because of how much racing costs these days.”  Amen to that.


Hansen’s crew consists of his brother Dustin, his mom Shelly, and his dad Ken.  His sponsors are:  Choices Cleaning Unleashed-Wellington, Utah; Freedom Realty-Duchesne, Utah; Jet Lift Systems-Myton, Utah; Signs & Lines-Roosevelt, Utah; and TJ’s American Car Care Center-Roosevelt, Utah.


Career Highlights:

-2006 Desert Thunder Raceway Rookie of the Year

-2007 IMCA Western Region Rookie of the Year

-2007 IMCA Utah State Champion

-2007 IMCA Desert Thunder Raceway Champion

-2008 Fairgrounds Speedway Champion

-2009 1st Annual Western Park Indoor Dwarf Car Shootout Winner


With accomplishments like these, look for Chase Hansen to be an IMCA driver to be reckoned with year after year in regional and national points battles, or like I said, this driver is in the Chase every year.


I enjoyed doing this piece on Chase, and look forward to doing others on drivers around the nation, not just in the Midwest.  While Chase is a proven winner, he is definitely driving under the radar of racing media, out of site of the modified hot bed areas.  I hope to write about drivers who don’t get the attention they deserve, and I don’t care what racing division they might do battle in. 


Speaking of battles, Dylan Smith continues to lead the National IMCA Modified Standings by just three points over David Murray.  Nebraskans Jordan Grabouski, Johnny Saathoff, and Chris Alcorn are 6th, 7th, and 12th in national standings.


Thanks for stopping by.

Smokestack Lightning

August 22, 2009 8 comments

I had no idea what to expect of my first truck/tractor pull.  I really could not have envisioned what we saw, a major motorsports event in tiny Wisner, Nebraska.  And, it was a very enjoyable evening too.

Thunder By The River, or Thunder In The Valley-I have heard it called both, more than lived up to its billing.  From the first black smoke belching tractor run down the 300 foot track to the last pass by a wheel standing 2 wheel drive truck, the evening was all about power and noise.  The man made berms parallel the track, and no matter where you sit, you are extremely close to the action.  We were no more than 50’ away from the east lane-the track runs two lanes-and not only could we hear the power, we could feel it.

Only in America would someone have the ingenuity to bolt a Chinook helicopter engine to a hot rod tractor frame and try to pull a sled weighing thousands of pounds for 300’ or more.  Only in America would people call this entertainment and pay $22 for the privilege of viewing it.  More than 10,000 fans will attend the three show event, cheering John Deere or Farmall or International or Case or Ford tractors do their thing.

I wouldn’t call truck and tractor pulls environmentally friendly, but I hope I can be excused for my love of motorsports if I try to go green in many other ways.  I have no clue how many decibels filled the airwaves with each run, but even Matt asked me for ear plugs last night.  I am pretty sure that black smoke shooting 100’ into the air is air pollution, but then again, this is Nebraska, and the air is a lot cleaner in Wisner than it is in Los Angeles.

My two favorite classes were the 7,400 pound modified tractors, and the 2 wheel drive trucks.  The modifieds were amazing contraptions powered in most unusual ways.  I mentioned the Chinook helicopter engine, but another of the modifieds was powered by a Rolls Royce engine that powered Spitfire airplanes.  Several sported triple big block Chevy engines-yeah, I wasn’t seeing things, there were three Chevy engines powering the tractor, and a few more had dual Hemi’s for power.  Seeing them was a treat, hearing them a motorsports lover’s delight, and watching them pull was awesome.

I have no idea what type of fuel the 2 wheel drive trucks use to run their incredibly powerful and noisy engines, but it must be close to explosive.  The trucks ran in the far lane, but you could absolutely feel the power as they drove by.  I guess if they shook the berms it could be called an earthquake, and if they didn’t, they came awfully close.  Hearing them, watching their nearly 300’ wheel stands was worth the price of admission. 

Differing from auto racing was the fact that anyone could walk through the pits.  And what an enormous pit area it was. The pits were a half-mile or eight blocks long, and at least three blocks wide.  This would be double the size of most dirt track pits, but the pits were packed with over 200 trucks and tractors.  Most of the trailers hauling the trucks and tractors were far more bare bone than the rolling shops of trailers of late model tour drivers.  Plus it seemed like almost every trailer was surrounded by two or three family vehicles.


I was very impressed with the organization of the event.  It takes 300 volunteers to run the three shows, and the organization is apparent from the start with the team parking cars.  Several tractors pulling trams haul people from the parking area to the track.  Four more tractors “farm” the track after each pull. Others man the concession stand-and the concessions were very reasonably priced, including ribeye and beef tip sandwiches.  You could bring your own coolers in, which we did, but beer was only $2.00, and that you don’t find very often at dirt tracks around the country.

The “farming” choreography was well designed, and as one lane was being prepared for the next pull, the other lane was in action.  Even with ear plugs, I could easily make out what the announcers were saying, so the P.A. system of a track used only two days a year was far better than most dirt tracks, definitely better than one that sits halfway between Omaha and Lincoln. The show lasted over four hours, but the only down time was a brief intermission, or when a tractor broke and had to be pulled from the track.  Even that was far better coordinated than many dirt tracks who perform those tasks numerous times during the racing season.

Our neighbors on the east coast and west coast are often chauvinistic about the “hicks” who live in the Midwest.  I admit that Wisner, Nebraska could not host a King Tut exhibit like San Francisco.  However, San Francisco couldn’t run a Thunder In The Valley event, so that evens things out.  Actually, I have been to the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco to view the King Tut exhibit several years ago, and I have been to Wisner to see Thunder In The Valley.  I enjoyed them both.  So to the chauvinists from the coast I say “bite me.”

Random thoughts:

-leave it to a city boy guiding a person wearing shorts and no coat on a cool evening to think it was a good idea to sit on the downwind side of the track, facing into the sun.  Steve Basch was the city boy, and Matt was the coatless, shorts wearing person. 

-no, it is not farmers in short sleeves wearing a straw hat driving these machines.  Drivers wear a fire suit just like their compatriots in auto racing, and the tractors have a roll cage.

-if you go to a dirt track you often see drivers walking the track during intermission, trying to read the dirt.  The same thing happens at truck and tractor pulls.

-many of the tractors pulling are owned and driven by farmers.  It sort of belies the image of a poor dirt farmer when the announcer says “the engine on this machine has four turbochargers costing $30,000.”

-if Americans are creative enough to strap three engines to a tractor, we ought to be able to come up with a workable change to a health system that is far from ideal.  OK, I shouldn’t put politics into my blogs, but that was my thought when the first modified tractor with three Chevy engines took to the track.

This is an event you should see in person at least once.  Thanks for stopping by.

Picture Me In Bib Overalls, A John Deere Cap, And Chewing Beechnut

August 21, 2009 3 comments

I am about to embark on a new path in my motorsports viewing career.  Barring rain I am going with Matt (aka Humpy) and Steve Basch (aka raceguru) to Wisner tonight to the truck/tractor pull.  I know it is a major pulling event and rigs from all over the country will be present, and I think it is called Thunder By The River, meaning it must be in a park by the Elkhorn River.  It is not quite as expensive as a WoO show, but it isn’t cheap either.  Ha, it is still a dirt track though.


My daughter thought a tractor pull meant a huge guy was chained to a tractor and trying to pull it up a ramp.  She couldn’t figure out why her brother was interested in that.  I guess she must have thought this was a strong man type competition.  I am starting to get a little paranoid about going to races, etc.  The only time pork chops seem to be served for supper in my house is when I am going somewhere like tonight.


Lynyrd Skynyrd last week, sprint cars on Monday, and a truck/tractor pull tonight.  Next thing you know I’ll be wearing bib overalls and chewing Beechnut.  Oops, I forgot the John Deere cap. I was in New York City for a meeting in December, and if you ask me would I rather go to NYC or Wisner, the answer would be Wisner.  Wow. I do think it is interesting that the yuppie in my family is the one who was the instigator on going to Skynyrd, the sprints, and the pull.


Ernie Reiss has just started his own blog.  The stock car driver and Beatrice policeman calls it Southeast Nebraska Ramblings.  Congratulations Ernie. 


There is a hint of fall in the air today.  I probably would dislike fall more if not for football, but I hate to see the racing season winding down.  Most tracks in the area will be ending weekly racing in the next few weeks, and then comes specials season.  I say this every year, but it seems like it was just last week when I saw my first race of the season. Of course one more reason I hate to see the end of the racing season is that it means I am one year older.  Barring some major medical break through, I have far more racing seasons behind me than I have to look forward to.  Ah well, I am not going anywhere other than to Wisner tonight.


Thanks for stopping by.

Categories: August 2009 Tags: ,

TV Racing Other Than NAPCAR Sprint Cup

August 20, 2009 3 comments

No, I didn’t have a typo in the title. Thanks to TMC for that line, though he would probably rather remain anonymous.


If you have Speed Channel on your cable system, tune in tonight at 6:00 p.m. for coverage of the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour UNOH Perfect Storm 150 from Bristol.  This may be the best asphalt race the Speed Channel will televise all season.


It looks like Bristol on TV will be the extent of my race watching this weekend.  I am still recovering from the great show the TNT Topless Bandits put on at I-80 Speedway on Monday, plus for whatever reason, the Bristol Sprint Cup night race is one of the handful of NASCAR races I always mark on my calendar. 


The Discovery Channel has been filming a new reality show at Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City. The working title for the series is “Friday Night Feud,” and it will focus on drivers Tom Charles and his son Danny, Tim Karrick, and Justin Boney. Family members, crew members, and fans will also be seen.  Film crews will be on hand two more times this season, August 28th and September 4th, and the show is supposed to be televised this fall.  The Discovery Channel produces quality programming, so it will be interesting to see what this look at auto racing will be like.


I think another great reality show would be the annual U.M.P. Hell Tour.  Call it “Survivor Midwest.” A month’s worth of late model racing would produce a season of must see TV.  Show it in the winter, and even the NASCAR couch potato fans will watch. I am not sure if the word ‘reality’ should be used in the same sentence as IMCA Supernationals, but a week at Boone could produce a season of TV shows too.


Speaking of NASCAR and winter racing, why did the racing that spawned the popular truck series depart air waves?  I enjoyed those January Sunday afternoon shows, and tracks in Tucson, Irwindale, and Las Vegas could all host events in what is the off season in cold weather states. Irwindale is probably the finest weekly track facility in the U.S. and it would be nice to expose fans to the kind of racing you see at such tracks. I have to give my son Matt, aka Humpy, for stirring the pot on this idea.


I guess these fall into the category of most of the magazine articles I want to write, great ideas that not enough other people want to see.  Thanks to you though for caring enough to stop by.  I appreciate it.